GAMES POLAND

Down the stairs to the cardsharpers’ pen

Lots of gaming machines in Poland, the growing number of websites that offer free and then payable online games proves that gambling was and still is quite a good source of income.

Not only casinos, but also owners and tenants of “one-armed bandits” and administrators of games websites, which are made available via the Internet.

It is not surprising, therefore, that the tax office wants to take control of this market for years, and actually the income generated by this market. The state would like to own this market as a monopoly.

Acts weaker than the market

The rapid development of techniques, internet applications, smartphones and the ingenuity of people who offer gambling meant that the gambling law of November 19, 2009 quickly ceased to adhere to the realities of this market. So as to seal the state’s gambling monopoly, on December 15, 2016, this law was amended. Its aim was to make it more difficult for entrepreneurs to bypass the obligation to obtain permits, to concede or to report this activity. Free activity in this area of economy is inadmissible.

The amendment, which has been in force since April this year, was notorious since the beginning. A lot of factors decided about it. For example, noisy announcements of frequent control of salons and game lounges, requisitioning vending machines or blocking websites with banned applications. In the last amendment of the Act, the definition of gambling was expanded. Now games are random games, also via the internet, in which money or prizes are won, the result of which depends on the case.

The most important of these provisions is the provision that games outside the salon or casino, including online gambling, are covered by the state monopoly, and therefore require additional conditions, such as the approval of the rules of the game by the competent minister. What’s more, the novel introduced a lot of previously unknown criteria, which must be met by the entity that is applying for a license to run a salon or casino.

Domain registry

To make it difficult to run virtual arcades, but also to make the state more control over them, a register of domains offering gambling games in violation of the Act was created. It is run by the Minister of Finance. If the domain is entered to it, internet providers, eg cable networks or telecommunications companies, have an obligation to block them. Theoretically, therefore, any site that the minister deems to contain gambling can be entered into the register kept by him and blocked on servers of Polish internet providers.

With such a wide definition of gambling and the actually discretionary assessment of the minister, whether we are dealing with gambling, this could lead to the blocking of websites that have little in common with gambling. Whether it’s a social networking site, an online magazine or a company website, if there were applications on it that would allow to get benefits, the outcome of which depends on the case, they would be in the spectrum of the new regulation.

Quizzes

On the other side of the problem are the entities that offer such games or benefits derived from them, as well as ordinary users and players who try their hand not so much for winnings as for entertainment. The opponent turned out to be worthy and even before the new regulations came into force for good, there were ways to avoid them.

Some lead to illegal circumvention of the law, others, due to certain modifications, exclude the given game from the scope of the Act.

The loudest is currently about devices that are colloquially called “quizzes”. They do not serve a typical number game, telebingo, cylindrical or lottery, only to carry out a quiz. “Polish Dictionary” explains that the quiz is a contest based on answering questions about a specific topic. This means that the potential knowledge depends on the participant, not the accident. Thus, the quiz does not offer gambling.

    

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